Love May Fail by Matthew Quick
Review copy, 416 pages
"Love may fail, but courtesy will prevail." Kurt Vonnegut
Love May Fail by Matthew Quick is a very highly recommended
novel about redemption, relationships, and interconnected lives.
It's also, in part, about goodness, broken people, adultery, unconventional families,
English teachers, religion, 80's metal bands, fate, coincidence,
hoarders, drinking, paper airplanes, and closure. I loved it.
After witnessing her wealthy pornographer and
serial-cheating husband Ron's latest affair with a teenager, instead
of shooting them, Portia Kane jumps on a plane, drunk, headed for
South Jersey and her hoarder mother's house. On the plane Portia sits
next to and profanely over-shares her woes with an elderly plucky nun before
passing out. Sister Maeve wisely leaves Portia her contact
information. Once in NJ, Portia is back at her mom's house, trying
to avoid the piles of stuff, and drinking the diet Coke with Lime
her mom has obsessively purchased just in case Portia ever visits.
While trying to get her mom out of the house, they go to a diner
where Portia meets an old high school friend, which leads to meeting
her little boy, Tommy, and her brother, Chuck Bass, who secretly
always had a crush on Portia. (All of them love 80's metal bands,
especially Motley Crue.) When Portia tells them she wants to find
their old English Teacher, Mr. Vernon, and tell him how much he
meant to her, she learns that he gave up teaching and left town
after a student attacked him. She plans to help/rescue Mr. Vernon
because he believed in her.
Although it may appear I've retold the whole plot, this is only a taste of Love May Fail. There is so
All the characters embody the Albert Camus quote
Quick includes: "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous
energy merely to be normal."
I thought Love May Fail was a delight to
read. Yes, sometimes it is sad and heartbreaking, but it is also
quirky and funny. These are all very real characters, broken in some
ways, trying to redeem themselves. They all have lots of faults and
are trying to do what they think they are supposed to do in order to
become the person they are supposed to be. They are also all
strangely interconnected, be it a master plan or fate, and need each
other in some capacity. The novel unfolds through three characters
and the letters of a fourth. Portia, Mr. Vernon,
and Chuck all take up the narrative and tell us what is going
on, while Sister Maeve has one short section comprised of
letters she has written.
Love May Fail is most assuredly very well
written. Quick does a superb job with dialogue and the plot
moves along quickly. I can concede that some readers may
struggle with Portia's swearing and rants, especially at the
beginning, but give the woman a chance. Think about how you
would feel in her situation. And, again, all of these characters
have faults, just like real people, and they are trying to do
the best they can. I just love it when a novel comes together perfectly and hits all the right marks for me!
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from
the publisher and TLC for review purposes.
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